Gov. Jim Doyle announced last week that Wisconsin will participate in recognizing Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, scheduled for May 20-26. Doyle urged state residents and visitors to become better educated about the pest and the destruction that it causes.
Joining Wisconsin in Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week are neighboring Minnesota and Illinois, as well as Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. In Wisconsin, agencies working on emerald ash borer issues include the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Department of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin Extension, and federal partners including USDA and the U.S. Forest Service.
"Wisconsin is a tree state," Doyle says. "We love our trees and respect the value and benefits that they provide, be it economical, recreational or environmental. We cannot allow the emerald ash borer to spread through the state unchecked; we have to take a stand against this invader."
The emerald ash borer is a native beetle of Asia. It is believed to have arrived in the United States in the early 1990s in the suburban Detroit area. But it wasn't until 2002 that it was identified as the cause of the deaths of thousands of ash trees in southeastern Michigan. Since its introduction, EAB has been responsible for the deaths of roughly 25 million ash trees in North America. It has spread from Michigan to Ontario, Indiana, Ohio, and Maryland. It was found last summer in northern Illinois.
EAB attacks all species of ash trees, healthy or otherwise, without regard to size. The female beetle lays eggs in the bark crevices. When the tiny larvae hatch, they burrow into the soft, cambium layer of the tree, just beneath the bark. It's in that layer that they begin to feed on the tree, cutting off the water and nutrient conductive systems. An infestation of beetles can kill a small ash tree within a year's time; larger trees succumb in three to five years.
In Wisconsin, ash species comprise 20% of urban street trees, and there are approximately 717 million ash trees in forest settings. The number of backyard or landscape ash trees is unknown.
"By signing this proclamation, I'm encouraging all Wisconsinites and visitors to our state to play a role in halting or slowing the spread of this invasive pest," Doyle says. "The two most important things that people can do about the emerald ash borer are to stop transporting firewood long distances, and to become better educated about the beetle."
Doyle recommends that people interested in learning about the emerald ash borer visit the Wisconsin Emerald Ash Borer web page at emeraldashborer.wi.gov or request an information packet by calling the state's EAB Hotline at 1-800-462-2803.